25 Jan 2012

Big budget increase for London Olympic ceremonies

6:44 am on 25 January 2012

The British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt admits he is sticking his neck out in doubling the budget for the London Olympics opening and closing ceremonies to more than 80 million pounds ($NZ150 million).

He sees it as an extraordinary business opportunity in a time of biting austerity and when students, tourists and businesses are deciding where they want to go or invest this year.

An increase of 41 million pounds above the STG 40 million already budgeted for the opening and closing nights' shows was announced last month.

Hunt told the Culture, Media and Sport committee that he's putting his neck on the line in a big way for the opening ceremony.

The former sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe noted that world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe has branded the extra spend on the ceremony as frivolous, given the state of the economic situation.